The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Faculty Impact

The bedrock of SBS is our impassioned, inspired, and intellectually diverse faculty. We’re renowned for innovative and interactive teaching methods and our ability to introduce research into the classroom. 


Léonce Ndikumana Receives the 2017 Distinguished Faculty Award

Leonce Ndikumana in his office

Léonce Ndikumana was honored for his exceptional skill in the professional realm of teaching, research, and student involvement. He was awarded the 2017 Distinguished Faculty Award  - one of the most prestigious accolades on campus - by the UMass Alumni Association.

A world renowned economist, Ndikumana is also the founding director of the African Development Policy Program at the UMass Amherst Political Economy Research Institute. Endowed with a unique combination of academic expertise and practical policy experience, he is one of the most prolific and influential researchers in his areas of expertise worldwide. His research investigates critical development issues, notably the problem of capital flight, globalization, and the effectiveness of aid in African development. 



SBS Honors This Years Outstanding Teaching Award Recipients, Emily West and James Kitts

Emily West and James Kitts

West (communication) and Kitts (sociology) professors were bestowed the Outstanding Teaching Award for 2017. West was described by a student, saying “I always leave feeling inspired and like a more competent researcher. She is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had and this class was the best of graduate school.”  She was nominated for the award by the Department of Communication Personnel Committee, who jointly stated that “On all measures (teaching, advising, scholarship), Professor West is outstanding.” 

One of Kitts’ students writes, “No other professor has taken such care in ensuring the success of my college career nor has any other professor taken so much time to ensure that I am able and ready to achieve great things.” Michelle Budig, Chair of the Department of Sociology, states, “On every dimension of teaching, advising and mentoring, Dr. Kitts is outstanding. He has made extraordinary contributions to the UMass teaching mission and learning community.” 


Faculty Bring Crucial Social Science Research into the Public Sphere as PEP FellowsJonathan Wynn

As Public Engagement Project (PEP) Fellows, SBS faculty bring their research to the public sphere to impact policy and public debates. This year, the Public Engagement Project has chosen three SBS faculty to bring their research to life: Erica Scharrer (communication); Jonathan Wynn (sociology - pictured); and Deepankar Basu (economics). The fellows, who will receive a stipend and technical training in communicating with non-academic audiences, will also travel to Beacon Hill to share their research with lawmakers. 

“We are excited about continuing to build an interdisciplinary cadre of publicly engaged faculty at UMass. More than ever, we need university-based scholars to share their research outside the academy so that journalists, policymakers, practitioners and others can use it,”said Amy Schalet, director of the Public Engagement Project.



Deputy Chancellor and former SBS Dean Robert S. Feldman to Retire

Robert Feldman

Former Dean of SBS, Robert Feldman, retires in June 2017 after 40 years at UMass. In his most recent role, Feldman served as the Deputy Chancellor and Interim Dean of the College of Education. As a member of the department of psychological and brain sciences, where he spent most of his UMass Amherst career, Feldman focused his research on explaining everyday lying and deception. 

For five years, Feldman was Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, where he put in place the building blocks for the Institute for Social Science Research and the Computational Social Science Initiative. He initiated the campus Power Up program for first-year students, and edited volumes on improving the college experience. “Indeed, Bob has served the entire university extraordinarily well during his long career,” says Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy.